The recent arrival of the first great white shark of the season in Cape Cod could be the harbinger of a record-setting summer according to one expert, who says that the region might see its busiest year ever for the predators.
Earlier this week, a 15-foot-long female white shark made an appearance off Orleans, officially becoming the first of her species to be recorded this season. Named Freckles by the group from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy that documented her, the white shark was a new visitor to the region, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
— Atlantic White Shark (@A_WhiteShark) June 26, 2015
The conservancy is entering the second summer of a planned five-year-long population study. Last year, researchers documented 68 individual great whites off the coast of Cape Cod, a number that sometimes shocks people, according to Dr. Greg Skomal, one of the East Coast’s preeminent white shark researchers. The predators are drawn to the region by a vibrant seal population, and the conservancy believes that there are many more than just the tagged specimens to contend with.
The fact that Freckles is a new visitor to the cape is significant. In this second year of the study, scientists have the previous summer’s population list to compare with, and will be able to determine if the white shark population is growing off the coast, and whether any of the animals are repeat visitors. Dr. Skomal expects to see more sharks this summer, according to WCVB, though he notes that the appearance of Freckles so early in the year could be an anomaly.
“I thought that shark was somewhat of a fluke, and we didn’t see one today, we just got in. I don’t expect really to see the number of sharks increase until we get well in to July.”
More than 15 acoustic receivers have been deployed on buoys in the region, with over a dozen situated off Chatham, according to the Cape Cod Chronicle. Though this increases the expense of the operation, it allows researchers to detect the tagged white sharks when they come within a certain range. Other receivers are situated off Wellfleet, Provincetown, Duxbury, Scituate, and Plymouth, the site of a white shark attack last year.
— Fresh New England (@freshnewengland) June 25, 2015
Dr. Skomal notes that researchers could possibly employ an early warning system within the next few years that would raise an alert whenever tagged white sharks approach beaches. In the meantime, however, they will continue their efforts to determine just how many great white sharks consider Cape Cod a summer home.
[Image: Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images]